It has been a while since there was a queue to get into an Intrust Sup Cup game, but that was exactly the case on Saturday night as the PNG Hunters took a game to Port Moresby and more than 15,000 fans and more packed into the BSP Stadium. Hard to believe that the crowd in PNG was higher than any NRL crowd this weekend, showcasing a pure Rugby League argument for PNG’s NRL inclusion, and also highlighting how apathetic the public have become to the origin depleted NRL rounds. A point in favour of Des Hasler’s argument of an Origin shake up.
Elsewhere around Queensland, Townsville got the win they needed to stay on top, whilst their North Queensland rivals also kept up with finals race. Burleigh also got a much needed back to back win against Norths.
The other big story of the weekend was the return to the football field of the Easts Tigers after the passing of Grant Giess. The club was clearly hurting by the loss and they proved their toughness as they fought back from well down to earn a valuable point in this season’s first draw with Tweed Heads.
Here’s the Ladder after 14 Rounds, after each team has had their first bye. The top four are within two points, but Townsville’s huge for and against gives them the edge. Teams down to Tweed Heads can realistically think about finals football.
MACKAY CUTTERS 28 def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 18 @ Stadium Mackay (H/T Redcliffe 8-4)
The Intrust Super Cup opened up in Mackay on Saturday as did the skies with the rain falling during the close encounter between the Cutters and the Dolphins.
The travelling side from Redcliffe were looking to get to winning ways after back to back losses since a big win against Central in Round 11, and their start of two early tries gave them hope of two valuable points. Despite a Cutters reply in the 29th minute the visitors held onto an 8-4 half time lead, and even scored first after the break to extend that to 12-4.
But as the rain came down it appeared the home side enjoyed the conditions more and scored four of the next five tries to run out 28-18 winners, and cement their spot in the top five.
Mackay won back to back games for the first time since Round 6, whilst Redcliffe now have a hat trick of losses. Mackay take on their nearest rival on the ladder in the Easts Tigers in Brisbane, Redcliffe get the weekend off to think about it.
PNG HUNTERS 34 def SOUTHS LOGAN 12 @ BSP Stadium Port Moresby (H/T S/Logan 12-10)
A huge crowd of enthusiastic support numbering more than 15,000 greeted the players in Saturday night in Port Moresby for the first game in the capital since the Hunters inclusion. From all reports it was a night to remember.
The occasion may have got to the Hunters as they were down 12-0 to the Magpies within the first 15 minutes, and it took a try to Willie Minoga (a favourite of mine) to steady the ship for the home side. Another try 5 minutes before half time got the Hunters within two points at half time.
After the break it was a different story as the Hunters did what they do best by pouring on the attack ans scoring all of the four second half tries to run out the 34-12 winners on the night. Although one could argue that Rugby League was the equal winner.
It’s all good news for the Hunters as they won their club record seventh game in a row and have knocked of Townsville and Ipswich in consecutive games. They have the longest road trip in the Intrust Super Cup next weekend as they play the Tweed Heads Seagulls. Souths Logan will enjoy a bye after playing three of the top four in the past three weeks.
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAKWS 46 def CENTRAL CAPRAS 6 @ Browne Park (H/T 24-0)
The Townsville Blackhawks appears to have found their groove again after they gave the last placed Central Capras their 12th consecutive loss in a commanding performance that shows why they are on top of the Intrust Super Cup ladder. Not even a problem with their flight and a subsequent delay of the starting time could upset the competition leaders.
The Capras haven’t won since their opening round win at home, and the prospect of the Blackhawks visiting wouldn’t have given them much confidence of breaking that run. The Blackhawks did not spare the Capras with four tries in each half to give them another points difference boosting win. Zac Santo grabbing three of those for his first hat trick of the year.
Central did get on the board with 10 minutes to go, but they will need more than one try next weekend as they have the unenviable task of travelling to Ipswich to break their losing run. Townsville get it no easier with their North Queensland rivals Northern Pride visiting.
BURLEIGH BEARS 19 def NORTHS DEVILS 12 @ Pizzey Park (H/T 12-6)
The TV camera arrived at Pizzey Park for the first time in 2015 and the fans of the Burleigh Bears weren’t disappointed as they won a hard fought 19-12 victory over the struggling North Devils.
A very early try to the Devils may have caught a few fans out but it proved to be the highlight of their day as the home side equalised and scored again just before half time to take a 2-6 lead to the sheds.
Playing in a one-off pink jersey the Bears opened up the scoring in the second half to look comfortable, which would could as a relief after some big losses in the last month or so. Norths didn’t give up, and when they scored next it was 16-12 and there were 20 minutes left to turn around their losing run. Their fighting spirit belying their low position on the ladder.
Ultimately the Bears withstood the pressure and a penalty goal and a field goal put the game beyond the Devils, who now have lost four in a row. The Devils will look to their next game at home to Sunshine Coast as a good chance to start winning again, Burleigh will need the confidence boost in the trip away to Wynnum Manly.
NORTHERN PRIDE 28 def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 6 @ Sunshine Coast Stadium (H/T 8-0)
The 2014 Intrust Super Cup premiers gave the competition a reminder of their powers as they easily accounted for the in-form Sunshine Coast Falcons on the coast on Sunday afternoon.
Sunshine coast were looking for a third consecutive win as the reborn Falcons for the first time, an achievement after their previous season netted just the solitary win. But for the second time this season the run stopped at two as the Pride showed their class in a six tries to one victory.
Two tries without conversion left the half time score at 8-0, and when the Falcons scored just after the break, the home side could dream of that third straight win. But that was as much joy as the locals would get on Sunday as the visitors scored four unanswered tries, including two more to try scoring machine Linc Port to run out 22 point winners.
Both sides travel in Round 15, the Cairns based Pride pop down the road to Townsville in a crucial clash for their finals hopes, and the Falcons fly down to Bishop Park to play Norths.
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 24 drew EASTS TIGERS 24 @ Piggabeen (H/T 20-4)
Possibly the performance of the weekend from any side only earned just the one point but judging from the social media around the Easts Tigers return to the football field after the Grant Giess’ death, a draw was a much welcome result after the toughest week a football club could endure.
Having retired the number 7 jersey in honour of Grant Giess for the rest of the season the Tigers hoped to put on a win to honour their halfback, but it didn’t go to script in the first half as the home side scored four tries to one and take a 20-4 half time lead.
It much a much better experience for the Tigers in the second half as they fought their way back to draw level at 20-20, and with under 20 minutes to go they could realistically hope to complete the comeback with an against the odds win. The Seagulls broke that deadlock to edge ahead 24-20, but the Tigers weren’t to be denied as they replied to draw level for a second time and final time.
The draw was a great reward for the large away support that went down to Piggabeen on Sunday, and hopefully that feel good factor will follow them at their home game on Sunday against Mackay will continue the healing process. It will be a big day for the club, and anyone looking for some quality Sunday afternoon football should head to Tapout Energy Stadium.
Not to forget the Seagulls amongst all the emotion, their one point keeps them in the race for the finals, but they will need to keep winning, a feat that will be tested as they the PNG Hunters arrive next Sunday chasing eight straight wins.
A terrific tribute to Grant Giess is available to view through the Tiger TV website, well worth a view to remember a young player taken too soon.
ROUND 14 SCORES IN DETAIL
MACKAY CUTTERS 28 (Coen Hess 2, Jordan Pereira, Buchanan Rawhiti, Brenden Treston tries; Liam Taylor 4 goals) def REDCLIFFE DOLPHINS 18 (Josh Beehag, Oliver Regan, Harley Aiono, Nick Ritter tries; Luke Capewell goa) at Stadium Mackay.
PNG HUNTERS 34 (Ase Boas 2, Thompson Teteh, Adex Wera, Israel Eliab, Willie Minoga tries; Noel Zeming 4, Israel Eliab goals) def SOUTHS LOGAN MAGPIES 12 (Josh Damen, Joe Boyce tries; Jack Joass 2 goals) at BSP Stadium, Port Moresby.
TOWNSVILLE BLACKHAWKS 46 (Zac Santo 3, Michael Parker-Walshe 2, Noel Underwood, Kyle Feldt, Daniel Beasley tries; Kyle Feldt 7 goals) def CQ CAPRAS 6 (Rajan Opetaia-Halls try; Ian Webster goal) at Browne Park.
BURLEIGH BEARS 19 (Tyler Chadburn, Ryley Jacks, Louie Fanene tries; Tyler Chadburn 3 goals; Ryley Jacks field goal) def NORTHS DEVILS 12 (Rogan Dean, Liam Tyson tries; Liam Tyson 2 goals) at Pizzey Park.
NORTHERN PRIDE 28 (Linc Port 2, Brett Anderson 2, Luke George, Semi Tadulala tries; Linc Port 2 goals) def SUNSHINE COAST FALCONS 6 (Suliasi Vunivalu tries; David Oakes goal) at Sunshine Coast Stadium.
TWEED HEADS SEAGULLS 24 (Nathanael Barnes 2, Shaun Carney, Leva Li, Ali Grant; Blake Anderson 2 goals) drew EASTS TIGERS 24 (Maeli Seve, Donald Malone, Michael Kai, Matt Duffie, Billy Walters tries; Donald Malone 2 goals) at Piggabeen.